MINNEAPOLIS, MINN – Super Bowl LII is just around the corner, participants at this recent daylong exercise the first time everyone has come together under one roof will be asked to simulate their agency’s responses to a variety of scenarios.
From an active shooter event to reuniting a missing child with a parent to keeping fans and first responders warm in the frigid Minnesota winter.Nothing has been left to chance, not even the weather.
Nearly two years of planning has taken place, largely behind the scenes, to make sure that Super Bowl LII and the 10 days of events leading up to the kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4 is safe and secure.
The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) is the lead agency for security at this year’s Super Bowl, and they are being supported by dozens of local police departments and public safety organizations, the FBI and multiple components of the Department of Homeland Security.
Fans attending the game will be pre-screened at indoor locations, such as the Mall of America, so they won’t have to wait outside the stadium.
Securing the stadium itself is challenging because, unlike in many cities, U.S. Bank Stadium is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, making the establishment of a secure perimeter difficult.
Today’s exercise, a security dry run, of sorts, is a simulated opportunity for the entire team to come together to work on these and other issues as if it is game day.
The FBI’s main responsibilities include taking the lead in any kind of terrorist, cyber, or major crime incident, and providing intelligence, from both a national and international perspective, about bad actors who might seek to disrupt Super Bowl activities.
The FBI has also offered other expertise and resources, including taking responsibility for credentialing thousands of public safety officers and volunteers who will need varying levels of access to Super Bowl venues.
“We are facilitating the name checks and records checks for all the folks who are going to get credentialed,” Rivers said. “That means volunteers, food vendors, private security people the number of individuals could exceed 30,000. That’s a huge commitment from our office.”
For the FBI as a whole, however, preparing for major events is nothing new.
The Bureau’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) maintains teams of agents and experts who specialize in helping to secure major events such as political conventions and the Olympics.
CIRG personnel operate out of the spotlight but stand ready to respond to emergency situations.
“Most agencies deal with events like a Super Bowl maybe once in a career or once in a lifetime,” Special Agent in Charge Thornton said, “where collectively the FBI deals with these things on an ongoing basis.
The fact that we have the ability to reach back to the entire FBI with its specialty components, as well as all the other offices, to augment our resources is what makes the FBI unique.”
Alex Khu, a special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is the federal coordinator for Super Bowl security.
Working closely with MPD and the FBI, it’s Khu’s job to identify and procure needed assets from all federal agencies everything from technology and equipment to bomb-sniffing dogs and put them in place for the Super Bowl.
This year’s effort represents the largest deployment of federal assets to any Super Bowl ever. “Coordination at all levels is key,” Khu said. “There are so many moving pieces. No one agency can do this alone.”
We want all the fans in town to see the game and enjoy the events and festivities without ever having to know about all the time and effort and energy that went into getting us to this stage.”